• Deborah

Christmas Lights in January


I’ve become that house.

The one that still has its Christmas lights hanging on January 20th. Actually, I’ve become that woman. The one who appears to be operating under the direction of a water-soaked manual. This morning, I drove the kids to the bus-stop wearing my pajamas. Threw on a pair of sneakers and my husband’s sweatshirt and a gathered my hair in a pony-tail, as if I was going to workout. Let’s be clear here. The only “Breakfast of Champions” occurring in my life is two cups of a coffee and a multi-vitamin. The vitamin, I usually defer until lunch.

For as long as I can remember, I criticized others who didn’t run their lives orderly. Yes. I was totally arrogant and dismissive of those who couldn’t manage the details of their family life in an elegant, organized fashion. Kid bikes strewn around the front yard? Line them up in descending order of size along the driveway’s edge. Not sure what to serve for dinner? Pound some cage-free poultry and schnitzel that breast with organic breadcrumbs. Have a kid’s birthday party to attend on the weekend? Shop a week early for a theme-gift. Garage overflowing with camping gear, thrift-shop giveaways, beach toys and baby keepsakes (you know, memories to pass on your future grandchildren)? Buy some Sterlite 64 gallon boxes, grab your label maker and line them up alphabetically along the rafter shelf.

Yes. It’s true.

I used to be that woman.

How things have changed since I’ve started a start-up!

There are NOT enough hours in the day to start a company, raise a family and organize life to the standards of the DIY network (or any Martha Stewart-inspired website designed with a letter-pressed, lower-case font). The challenges of balancing work and family are difficult enough without keeping to a standard that is picture-ready, magazine-worthy and presentable to visitors who drop in unannounced. Thankfully, the tradition of “I just dropped by because I was in the neighborhood” doesn’t exist in our neck of Los Angeles.

There are hand-smudges on every wall. Shoes are strewn under most couches. Piles of laundered clothes rest not in drawers but on side-tables, so close – but yet too far – from their home in the closet. The freezer is stocked with chicken nuggets and tater tots. The Netflix movie hasn’t been returned in over two months. I can’t see the bottom on my inbox (let alone the wood surface of my desk). The paint is peeling on the wooden house shingles. A badminton birdie is wedged in the storm drain. Dive toys litter the bottom of the deep end of the pool (leftover from an unseasonably warm weekend in November). The pool, I believe, has a leak. The front-porch light is burned out. An undelivered Christmas present sits on the floor of the passenger car seat (it’s for the owner of the dry-cleaner…) Things just aren’t the way they used to be.

In the past, I concentrated on either just work (in my post-college years) or just family (for the last eight years). But now, I have two priorities — Family & Work. The tension is there and the struggle for balance is constant. The only way to accomplish it is by letting go of everything else.

So, I apologize to all those people who I so callously dismissed as lazy, unorganized, unfocused or mis-managed… and I join them in letting the lights hang. Sure, I can “have it all” so long as “all” no longer includes hand-made party invitations, book shelves arranged by the colors of the rainbow or customized photo books highlighting each family vacation. How’s that for a New Years resolution, 20 days into the fray?!

Now, I’m got to get back to work on Totefish ’cause in a few hours, I’ll have to change out of these ‘jams and pick up the kids from school.